Exploring VMware VSAN Ready Nodes, Per-Socket Pricing, and Design Guides

Virtual SAN Pricing

I know that everyone is chomping at the bit for VSAN licensing, so here it is. I’ll continue rambling after the images. 🙂

Pricing breakdown for VMware's Virtual SAN
Pricing breakdown for VMware’s Virtual SAN

[symple_box color=”red” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”]
Notice that the Virtual Distributed Switch (VDS) is included in the feature list?
[/symple_box]

The VDS is usually limited to customers who buy the Enterprise Plus licensing level. However, when you purchase VSAN licensing, all nodes within your VSAN-enabled cluster will gain access to the VDS feature, even if your host licensing level is below Enterprise Plus. This remains true if you contribute storage from only a subset of hosts because VSAN is a cluster level license. All hosts within the VSAN cluster need to be licensed for VSAN.

It was mentioned that the VDS radically simplifies the networking and provides spiffy features like Network IO Control (NIOC) for a VSAN cluster and was thus added to the license. I would say that the VDS radically simplifies networking for any sort of cluster. But it’s a nice carrot to put in front of someone looking to pluck the most valuable Enterprise Plus feature without dropping the bucks on licenses.

Virtual SAN Pricing Promotions

For those who are just super excited about VSAN and want to throw down some clams immediately, VMware is running a series of promotions and bundles as shown below:

Price promotions for VSAN
Price promotions for VSAN

The only caveat I’ll point out is that those who participated in the VSAN Beta – and want the discounted price – will need to purchase at least 10 CPUs worth of licensing, and the discount works only one time.

Thoughts

Taking a step back from the drama bombs and opinion wars, I will state publicly that although I hate the term “VSAN” to describe a storage solution, I really do think this is a step in the right direction for customer choice and the advancement of data center technologies. Providing a logical storage pool like VSAN gives VMware’s vSphere product yet another way to differentiate itself in the market and offers a rather interesting method to cobble together disparate components into a consumable, VM-centric storage resource. While VMware is not the first to do something like this – there are certainly a long list of vendors that use or enable distributed DAS – VMware offers an interesting blend of choices and carrots to entice customers into a VSAN deployment.

There are several go to market challenges. From a pure CapEx pricing perspective, VSAN is a bit cheaper than some other hybrid options I can think of, but that’s without factoring in operational expenses and only for a certain scale of compute nodes. A good question to ask yourself: how difficult is it to actually maintain and troubleshoot a virtual storage array that is held within the hypervisor’s kernel? There are a number of other solutions that have already solved the capacity and performance blender problem and have spent large volumes of capital on pro-active maintenance / troubleshooting and nearly zero touch operation.

Additionally, VSAN storage is only available to the compute nodes within the VSAN cluster – this could potentially create islands of storage that may not jive with other licensing caveats (such as Oracle and SQL) which may be solved with isolated clusters or DRS trickery. It will definitely make architecture decisions much more interesting and further reaching than before. 🙂